La Crescenta, CA (PRWEB) September 24, 2008
On behalf of its client, David Youssefyeh, Southern California's Premiere Consumer Protection law firm, Brennan, Wiener & Associates, has filed a class action lawsuit against the large New York debt collector MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES, alleging fraud in service of debt collection complaints upon California consumers (Youssefyeh v. Harris, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 398 315).
David Youssefyeh, a Los Angeles attorney, was understandably shocked and upset when his bank, Washington Mutual, levied his accounts in January 2008. As someone who minded his debts and had no outstanding judgments against him, he was mystified as to where this came from or how it happened. So, he began to pull the string back and found a lot more than he expected to find.
Mr. Youssefyeh learned that the judgment came from the State of New York. This was strange to him: other than perhaps a few short visits over the years, Mr. Youssefyeh had no business there, no property there, no family there--in other words, beyond stopping over there a few times, he had nothing whatsoever to do with the State of New York. And he certainly had never been served with a lawsuit there.
Being an attorney, Mr. Youssefyeh knew that creditors and debt collectors could enforce "sister state" judgments against a person in their home state. In other words, if a creditor or a debt collector had a valid judgment against a person in a court in, say, Virginia, that judgment could be enforced against the debtor in the state where he or she lives.
However, Mr. Youssefyeh also knew that the judgment had to be a valid judgment--served upon a defendant with valid service of the complaint and not with false or fraudulent service designed to hide, not reveal, the lawsuit to the consumer.
Mr. Youssefyeh dug further into the mystery and discovered that the plaintiff who had taken out the judgment against him was MEL HARRIS & ASSOC., a very large debt collection company operating in the New York metropolitan area.
A bit of research by Mr. Youssefyeh confirmed for him what he has stated in his class action complaint: that MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES allegedly has a business practice of somehow "serving" debt collection complaints on consumers who live outside of New York, within New York.
This practice is as old as litigation itself, and is known widely in legal circles as "sewer service," after the practice by some process servers of throwing the summons and complaint into the sewer outside of the defendant's home and then claiming to have served them with the complaint. The effect, of course, is to deprive the consumer of any notice of the lawsuit. The first notice many consumers have of such lawsuits is a levy on their outside-of-New York bank accounts, as happened with Mr. Youssefyeh.
As many debt collection lawsuits involve small sums of money, most consumers have neither the time nor the resources to hire a New York attorney to fight or otherwise straighten out bogus lawsuits or false attempts to serve debt collection complaints. Mr. Youssefyeh knew, however, that a class action in California against MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES could, if successful, put a stop this alleged practice, at least for California consumers. Each California consumer would have remedies through the class action which he or she would not have on an individual basis because of cost.
"I'm pursuing this lawsuit to teach MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES a lesson: consumers deserve proper service of complaints and due process just like large corporations do. Just because my name isn't Microsoft is no reason that I don't deserve protections under the laws of the United States and California. In my opinion, MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES seems to think that consumer debtors are second-class citizens who can be tricked in fooled, and I intend with this lawsuit to teach MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES that this is definitely not the case in California."
Mr. Youssefyeh has hired the La Crescenta, California firm of Brennan, Wiener & Associates ("BWA") to prosecute the class action in a California court.
"My clients are understandably outraged," commented Robert F. Brennan, lead counsel for the plaintiff class. So far, Brennan has collected much anecdotal evidence with which he intends to prove in court that what MEL HARRIS & ASSOCIATES allegedly did to Mr. Youssefyeh has been done to many California consumers, as well as consumers from other states.
The class members have filed a class action in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Afshin David Youssefyeh and Liza Youssefyeh v. Mel Harris & Associates, et al., Case No. BC 398 315.
Brennan offers some tips on handling "sewer service" situations when they arise. "If the amount of money is sufficient, then obviously hire a lawyer and fight it, or if it's local for you, appear in court and fight it yourself. Bring proof: if the process server claims he served you at 3 p.m. at your home on a certain day and you can prove you were at work at that time, bring this proof so you can show it to the judge. Consider setting up a website or a blog so that you can group with some other victims and perhaps be able to maintain a class action lawsuit against the debt collector. Also, advise your bank that you will sue them if they levy upon your accounts based on a fraudulent judgment. Mrl Youssefyeh did, and Washington Mutual removed the levy."
About Robert F. Brennan: Robert F. Brennan, Esq. and his firm, Brennan, Wiener & Associates, 3150 Montrose Ave., La Crescenta, Ca., handle wrongful and abusive debt collection, identity theft and wrongful credit report damage cases for residents of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Ventura Counties. Contact Information: Robert F. Brennan, Brennan, Wiener & Associates, 3150 Montrose Ave., La Crescenta, Ca. 91214, (818) 249-5291. Mr. Brennan and his firm are the leading consumer protection, wrongful debt collection and wrongful credit damage attorneys in Southern California. Mr. Brennan has been selected as a "Southern California Super Lawyer" for three years running, for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
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